Female novelty and male status dynamically modulate ejaculate expenditure and seminal fluid proteome over successive matings in red junglefowl
Alvarez-Fernandez A., Borziak K., MCDONALD GC., Dorus S., PIZZARI TOMMASO.
Theory predicts that males will strategically invest in ejaculates according to the value of mating opportunities. While strategic sperm allocation has been studied extensively, little is known about concomitant changes in seminal fluid (SF) and its molecular composition, despite increasing evidence that SF proteins (SFPs) are fundamental in fertility and sperm competition. Here, we show that in male red junglefowl, Gallus gallus, along with changes in sperm numbers and SF investment, SF composition changed dynamically over successive matings with a first female, immediately followed by mating with a second, sexually novel female. The SF proteome exhibited a pattern of both protein depletion and enrichment over successive matings, including progressive increases in immunity and plasma proteins. Ejaculates allocated to the second female had distinct proteomic profiles, where depletion of many SFPs was compensated by increased investment in others. This response was partly modulated by male social status: when mating with the second, novel female, subdominants (but not dominants) preferentially invested in SFPs associated with sperm composition, which may reflect status-specific differences in mating rates, sperm maturation and sperm competition. Global proteomic SF analysis thus reveals that successive matings trigger rapid, dynamic SFP changes driven by a combination of depletion and strategic allocation.